It seems that the Fake News saga has extended its popularity to Android’s Play Store. For the past couple of days, there has been an avalanche of fake reviews geared toward a number of apps, a feat that has left us question Google’s anti-spam and fraud detection tools.
In most cases, app developers have been known to pay for positive reviews, and some of them have stretched the scope of the game by rating apps using bots. Usually, Google tackles this issue by flagging Google accounts that display fraudulent or spam-y behaviours. To avoid being detected, suspicious accounts have upped their game by rating many apps, which exonerates them from being regarded as fake.
Fake reviews seem to have plagued core Google apps such as Hangouts, Chrome among others. For instance, a quick look at Hangouts Play Store reviews ascertains this vice, where it is clearly challenging to figure out a genuine review from fake ones. In addition, many of them have no comments at all, with just the ratings, or a simple ‘Good’ tag. Furthermore, most of those rating have no avatars, which, in principle, is fishy. Also, some comments have no relation to the app in review. We have seen this before on Android System WebView reviews, which we thought was hilarious.
It is understandable for an app to gun positive reviews and ratings to boost a developer’s earnings and popularity of the app. However, those reviews are misleading if they are falsified, which makes such actions duplicitous and wrong. We hope Google will do something to put the matter at rest.